I’ve been fortunate that Anabella has only had one significant cold in nine months. But man, it was a doozy. She woke up one Sunday morning with what seemed like a bottomless fountain of clear liquid pouring from her nose. Over the course of a week, the thin liquid morphed into an Elmer’s glue-like substance, but ten days later, there’s not a trace of illness left.
Since colds are viral, we’re often told there’s not much you can do except wait them out. That can be very difficult, especially with a non-verbal, nursing baby. I wasn’t content to wait, and pulled out all the stops. Here are a few of my best baby cold remedies.
Steam, steam, steam. After realizing Anabella wasn’t going to sit quietly with a towel over her head and breathe in the steam from a bowl of hot water like I do, I had to rethink this option. Instead, we took baths nightly (and daily when things were really clogged). We kept the shower curtain closed, and jumped in as soon as there was an inch of water. I put a few drops of Eucalyptus oil in the water while the tub filled, and we both breathed the benefits, no towel needed. Eucalyptus is known for loosening congestion and improving lung function. You may notice your bathroom smells like Vicks Vapor Rub, only natural.
Steam is important to keep the congestion runny. In order to rid the body of the virus, you need to expel the congestion. If things get blocked up, it can lead to ear infections, difficulty breathing, and even vomiting. (I did notice that Anabella spit up more times during the week she had the cold than in the rest of her 9 months combined!) A warm mist vaporizer at night can also help with congestion.
Stand tall. I tried to keep Anabella vertical for most of her waking hours, and often let her sleep with her head resting on my arm, to help clear her nasal passages and speed up drainage. She also nursed upright in the ERGO which was a total lifesaver during this time. When energy is low, and babe’s not feeling well, carrying her close is a valuable remedy in itself.
Clear it out. If you don’t have a Nosefrida Snotsucker Nasal Aspirator, they’re a worthy investment. We must have used this 10 times a day. I can’t say Anabella enjoyed it (the screams were my first clue), but I felt like I was able to “suck” out far more snot than I could with the bulb. I know it seems unhygienic, and gross. You’re probably thinking you could never use a tube that connected your mouth to your baby’s nasal passages, but it works. There are even YouTube videos that demonstrate. The difference in nursing after removing mucus from Anabella’s nose was remarkable.
Eat, drink, and be merry. Keeping baby hydrated is key. Nursing is best, but sometimes Anabella was so congested she could barely latch. I tried hand expressing some milk into a cup, and that was a little easier. She also preferred water at times. I ate as well as I could, and included lots of raw garlic in my diet, as it’s a potent anti-viral. Anabella had a tiny bit too, but it’s pretty strong, so a little goes a long way. We cooked with onions almost every night, too. Onions contain sulphur, which breaks up mucus and increases circulation. Avoiding dairy is often recommended, because of its mucilagenic properties.
It can be stressful to have a sick baby (especially one that wakes up every 40 minutes screaming because breathing is so difficult), but our babies mirror our emotions, so it’s important to stay positive and remember that this too shall pass.
Do you have any tips to share?